Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Announces Guilty Plea of Former Social Worker for Falsifying Child Abuse and Neglect Reports

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, May 22, 2012  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway announced the guilty plea today of a former social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to nine felony counts of tampering with public records. Sixty-one-year-old Margaret "Geri" Murphy entered the guilty plea in Anderson Circuit Court in connection with her role as a front-line worker investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in Anderson County. Reports of child abuse and neglect are assigned to a social worker to investigate and file a report finding the abuse or neglect is substantiated or unsubstantiated. In all nine investigations charged in the indictment, Murphy documented that child abuse or neglect was unsubstantiated.

"Margaret Murphy had a responsibility to actually investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect assigned to her, to substantiate those that merited it and take action to protect children who are living in abusive homes," General Conway said. "Murphy not only failed these innocent children, she failed her fellow social workers who work tirelessly to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens."

In pleading guilty, Murphy admitted that she falsified her reports in all nine of the investigations conducted between April 2006 and October 2010. In one false entry, Murphy stated that a man alleged to have sexually abused a seven-year-old denied the abuse during an interview with police and passed a polygraph, when in fact the man was not interviewed nor did he take a polygraph examination.

In another report of sexual abuse, Murphy admitted that she falsely documented that a father accused of sexually abusing his 11-year-old child had passed a polygraph exam, when in fact the father was never interviewed on advice of his attorney, and had never taken a polygraph examination.

In a report of sexual abuse of an infant by the mother's boyfriend that Murphy unsubstantiated, she admitted to falsely documenting that a hair found in the baby's diaper was found to be a canine hair rather than a human hair. New allegations of sexual abuse against the boyfriend were made after Murphy unsubstantiated the original report, and police expressed the belief that Murphy's inaction allowed the sexual abuse to continue.

In a report that parents were providing drugs to their child, trading Food Stamp access for drugs, and not providing enough food for the child, Murphy documented that she visited the home , found no evidence of drugs, and found enough food for two weeks, including meats, vegetables, and snack food. In pleading guilty, Murphy admitted she falsified the documentation and did not ever visit the home.

Prosecution of this case was handled by General Conway's Office of Special Prosecutions at the request of Laura Donnell, Commonwealth's Attorney for the 53rd Judicial Circuit representing Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties. The Attorney General's Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) began investigating the allegations against Murphy after receiving a complaint from a citizen who had Murphy assigned to a court case involving her family.

All nine of the charges to which Murphy pled guilty are Class D Felonies carrying a penalty of one to five years in prison each. Anderson Circuit Judge Charles Hickman set sentencing for Margaret Murphy at 9 a.m. on July 24, 2012.